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Over 1 million U.S. babies are delivered by Cesarean section

More than 1 million (over one-fourth of all children born in the United States) annually are delivered by Cesarean section, according to a new report by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Cesarean section annually, or "C-section" as it is commonly called, is an abdominal procedure that involves making an incision in the mother's abdomen and uterus to deliver her child. AHRQ's report also found that:

  • Use of C-section has increased by 38 percent since 1997, when about one-fifth of all American babies were delivered this way.
  • The rise was accompanied by a 60 percent decline in the rate of women giving birth vaginally after having a previous child born via C-section, and conversely, by a 33 percent rise in the rate of repeat C-sections.
  • The national bill for childbirth as a whole in 2003 totaled $34 billion with hospital stays involving C-section delivery accounting for nearly half this amount ($15 billion).
  • Medicaid was billed for 43 percent of childbirths overall and 41 percent of those involving C-section delivery.

These data were drawn from the Agency's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. For more information, go to Statistical Brief #11: Hospitalizations Related to Childbirth, 2003 at http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs.jsp.

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